Sketch Break – Falling Water

Tim Bjella Sketches-Falling Water

This spring I finally made the obligatory architectural pilgrimage to one of the greatest homes ever designed by the master, Frank Lloyd Wright, in Bear Run, Pennsylvania. This extraordinary home, perched above a cascading creek, nestled into the site, must be experienced in person. Pictures simply cannot do it justice. Of course, I tried anyway. Here is my sketch.

Sometimes people think that the sketch itself is the end game. But, in fact, it is the act of sketching that is the reward. The quality of the sketch is mostly irrelevant. Because I spent a few minutes focused and completely aware of my surroundings, almost meditatively, I will forever have the memory etched into my mind of sitting on a boulder below the falls with the breeze whispering through the trees, the birds chirping and swooping around the home and the inexpressible tranquility of the place. You simply cannot get that from taking a quick snapshot.


Designing In-between


Quick sketches deconstructing the traditional gable home – just asking the question “how much can you break apart the design of a traditional home and still retain the iconic essence of a house?” At what point does the home become a modern sculpture and lose whatever it is that says to people “I’m a house”?

While I love and embrace modern, sculptural homes that look nothing at all like traditional homes, I am fascinated by design that falls in between. It is easy to design a traditional home, following historical rules, or a modern home with no aesthetic constraints, but designing a unique home that defies categorization? Now, that is a challenge worth exploring.

The Dutch Door is Back!

Well, maybe not back exactly. But, we finally designed our first Dutch door for a home in Missouri. You rarely see these anymore, not since Mr. Ed, anyway. Today, homes are designed for energy efficiency and are effectively hermetically sealed. In our zeal to keep the cold or warm in and the bugs out, we have lost one of the most uplifting experiences of living in a home, the open connection between the indoors and outdoors (did you get the pun, there?).

We designed with this in mind, of course, but received an unexpected bonus: a favorite perch for the family cat. Now that feels like home!

Dutch door by Tim Bjella, Arteriors Architects

See more of my work at Arteriors / Bjella Architecture.

The Perfect Pen

A pen is an integral part of my life, almost a permanent extension of my hand. As such, it must feel good, write and sketch well and, of course, look beautiful. It must be a joy to use and elevate my work. It must call to me in my dreams and make me want cuddle up next to it (there’s still room for you too, Robyn). I have never met a ballpoint pen that can do this.

THIS is not a ballpoint pen. This pen incorporates the Pilot Hi-Tec-C – the most beloved, precision ink delivery system of architects throughout the world.

Pen Type-B

The pen by CW&T is Simple, Minimal, Elegant, Timeless, Solid… and most important, ages to a beautiful patina. It is not a pen to display in a cabinet for fear it might be scuffed, but one whose beauty increases with use and wear over a lifetime. It is a stainless steel and brass heirloom for your kids to fight over – but only if they eat their vegetables.

Designing My First Home on Kauai – Getting a Feel for the Place

I’m designing my first home on the island of Kauai this week (it’s about damn time). After spending some time playing tourist, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to build here when there is plenty of land available in windswept North Dakota. Different strokes and all that.

Robyn doesn’t fly in until tomorrow, so I took the day off today and hiked the Kalalau trail, perhaps the most beautiful hike on the planet. After losing count of all the tropical flowers and growing weary of sublime beauty, I finally arrived hot and sweaty at a 200 foot waterfall, thus presenting me with my only decision of the day. Would it be the skimpy Speedo or au natural?